I heard Deepak Chopra mention in a meditation that “There is a tendency, unfortunately, spirituality involves renouncing your desires. But, there is nothing impure about desire itself.” That statement brought me to this blog to create a voice about my spirituality dilemma and the church I grew up in.
I was raised in a Catholic home. My parents were quite devout. They had 2 weddings. The first one was that my mother could stay in Canada but was during Lent and then the other was after Lent and in the church. The April 22 date was the one they celebrated. All holidays were religious based with a touch of commercialism. I would receive a chocolate Easter bunny, but there was no egg hunt. Easter was celebrating Jesus rising again and there was early morning mass (we had to fast), packing a basket of food, having it blessed by the priest and going home to eat. Honestly, it was my favourite moment. The food never looked so good. Christmas was similar. The church part was front and centre, but we would each receive one gift. Santa was not dismissed. I have photos of sitting on the lap of a few with the big guy and receiving a candy cane after asking for presents. But, when I put up a sock and asking that Santa bring something to find it was empty in the morning broke my heart a little. I quickly learned that it was not important in my home and that having “desires” were not going to be fulfilled. I felt most awkward when I went to school to listen to all the gifts my friends received. The lists were endless and I just asked them questions about their stuff and brushed off my lack of gifts. My brother and I got wise and started exchanging gifts so we could each have one little extra Christmas morning. That is one of my fave memories because it was always a little thing, but its how I got my first Def Leppard tape.
I think my parents did me a favour because I don’t expect much. Gifts that are given to me now hold a lot of value. I do not feel entitled to receive anything, but that also put a disruption in wanting more. I have contemplated that is why I don’t set goals. I grew up in a home that what we had was enough and asking for more was a sin. We were thankful to have a roof over our head and food on the table. I really am still grateful for all of that. As I sit in my house sipping my coffee I am filled with joy at the beautiful home and the acres of land that is spread out in my backyard.
The good part of being raised in a religious belief is we were always taught to pray. If we were worried there was always someone to talk to in prayer. My mother believed in guardian angels and so I felt I was always surrounded in their light. I imagined that every major scrape that I avoided that their wings caught me and rolled me to safety. Every party I went to and then felt this need to go home would result in finding out that something big happened like when the campground I had been at started on fire was due to their protection. It was ingrained in me to feel that if I didn’t understand God I would at least just have the belief that there is something greater out there. In the midst of depressions and unsure of my place in the world that belief was always there.
The bad part is the guilt I felt over most decisions I made. Everything seemed to be a sin. If I felt jealous over my friends getting new things that was a sin. If I wanted something I couldn’t have that was a sin. If my thoughts were impure that was a sin. I couldn’t do the right thing enough, because in the end I was going to have to repent the long list of my sins which seemed could never end since I was born to sin. It was a vicious circle. When I think of my young self I felt it was confusing. The people in my church always seemed to be fighting. I felt extremely judged by them. It ended up being a last straw when I had tried to return to the church in my 30’s. I think the best way to explain it would be that there was no hope for me. I needed to repent. I was a sinner. I needed to confess my sins and then I had a bit of a chance. On the way out they handed out a sheet that stated the 10 commandments and the sub-commandments. I cried on the way home that day and said I couldn’t go back. What was the point?
So, I started my own journey of hope. I have found greater peace in my life from meditation and looking within to see me in the world. But, what lingers with me is the in doctrine from the church. I still create limits in my life and when I ask myself where did it come from I just realize that it was how I was taught. It isn’t wrong, but it always implies that somehow being me isn’t right and that I need to conform to a belief system that can easily be manipulated by the spiritual leader, the pope and the congregation. Just like not every teacher is good, neither is all spiritual leaders. But, once in awhile you see that one leader who does like Jesus would have done and you can understand that someone like that could make real change. I think that is the point of the story of Jesus. Jesus didn’t peddle the bible. He may have preached on the hill, but his life was an example. He would always see the people that no one else wanted to look at and welcomed them to him. Stories in the bible always say how they cautioned Jesus but he always dismissed the naysayers and would accept the lepers or poor into his arms. He wanted to create healing in their lives. He wanted them to have hope and pass that on to the next person and the next. As though his kindness would create a ripple effect which I think is what his journey was really about.
Back to Deepak’s quote, I have realized that I had very little desires because it did seem that I should have none. Wanting or yearning for what I didn’t have seemed to mean that what I had wasn’t enough. I learned not to want much. I have had to start really slowly in this process. I have never really set goals or made major plans. In fact, I’m not sure what I want. I always feel stupid when I want a material item like the chaise lounge to put in my bedroom for reading. I look at them and have said I’d like it, but I still have never purchased one. I made a step at the beginning of the year that I wanted to take a real family trip. I wanted to fly somewhere with the famjam and do something that they would remember. We have barely done any vacations and because of that lack I truly desire the trip. So, I had sat after a meditation in the new year and I set the intention of going somewhere with all of them. And, I didn’t feel guilty at all.
One day soon, I hope to blog about our adventure. And here’s to more desires to be fulfilled and to all of yours.